Cancer has a major impact on society in the United States and across the world. According to cancer.gov, 0.02% of men and women on the globe die from cancer every year.
The month of October is Breast Cancer Awareness month where people all over the country show how they raise awareness and funding to put an end to breast cancer once and for all. And in a small community like Dawsonville, the movement to end breast cancer can come from the most unlikely places.
This month, the Dawson County 8 and under cheerleading squad and football team hosted their first home game of the season against a team from Chestatee, and chose to use the game as a way to celebrate Breast Cancer Awareness month.
On Oct. 17, the Dawson County 8u Cheerleading Team set up in a squad formation next to a large poster, which had been painted in honor of nearly 70 breast cancer survivors from the local community and those who had succumbed to the disease.
Volunteer dads held the poster while the pink balloons floated up into the sky to honor those who passed away due to complications with breast cancer. And at the chosen moment, dozens of young football players charged through a banner.
Hannah Jordan Ray, head coach of the Dawson County 8u Cheerleading Team led the effort with her team of ten girls. Ray said that she does a Breast Cancer Awareness flag every year since she became a cheerleading coach.
“It means a lot to us to be able to do this flag,” Ray said. “Breast Cancer can hit home for so many people, including myself, so this almost feels like it’s the least we can do.”
Ray collected names by posting on Facebook asking for the names of anyone affected by breast cancer. Throughout that process, Ray said that so many people interacted with her post that the final poster was bigger than ever before.
The color pink and ribbon have become synonymous with support of breast cancer, so the team painted a big pink ribbon on the poster. When the ceremony happened on Oct. 17, pink balloons flew out into the sky.
Most nights consisted of Ray and her family working on the poster at home. The entire team met together at Rock Creek Park in Dawsonville one night and worked on putting names on the poster.
The cheerleaders also created individual flags painted pink to hang all around the field, adding more support for Breast Cancer Awareness month.
This project was very personal to the team, Ray said, some young cheerleaders even knew people listed on the poster, including one girl’s grandma.
“My favorite thing about my grandma is that she survived breast cancer,” the cheerleader said.